I’ve noticed lately that some of my favorite bands have key members missing. What’s even worse is that they haven’t really explained why. First is Unknown Hinson. Shortly before his wife/manager passed away last year, he retired from touring. At the time he had Hugh “Tuff” Blanton on Bass, and Rick Kutshaw on the drums. Shortly before the final shows, he had Jimmy Church playing pedal steel in the band. The retirement announcement mentioned that they had been in the red, financially, so I assume this is partly why Jimmy was out of the band, towards the end. A few months ago, Stuart Baker, the man behind Unknown Hinson, announced that he would be returning to the road this fall, but gave no mention to who his band would be. He has had a few different lineups over the years, so everyone was wondering who he’d take with him. I assumed he’d bring back Jimmy, Tuff, and Rick. But, shortly before the tour started, he announced the return of the original Unknown Hinson Showdate Band, which includes Roger “Tiny” Khors on bass, and Billy Boy on the drums. This caught me off guard for a moment, since he had toured with a completely different band the year before, and especially since Billy Boy had been out of the band for so long. Roger has been in the band off and on, since it started. Actually, the 2011 tour was the first tour he’d ever been out of the band, however, towards the end of that tour, Unknown fired the bass player he had hired, right before Tuff, so until he found Tuff, he brought Roger back to finish out the obligated dates. But, after I thought about it, it made perfect sense to bring the original band back.
On the other hand, .38 Special has chosen to operate slightly more secretly. For a little over a year now, Donnie Van Zant, one of the founding members, has been absent from live performances with the band, and nobody knew why. Then, one day earlier this year, an announcement was made from .38 Special saying that Donnie was suffering from an inner-ear problem, and his doctor had advised him against touring, so he would no longer be with the band, except for albums and other studio projects. Afterwards, as they probably should’ve done to begin with, they updated their press photos, to show the current lineup, without Donnie. When, drummer, Gary Moffatt was sidelined from touring, there was an announcement made that it was for health reasons. But, that being said, they took longer with Donnie’s announcement than with Gary’s. Almost as if they weren’t sure whether or not Donnie would for sure be off the road. So, that begs the question: Will Donnie be back relatively soon? Time will tell. On the other hand, just in the last month or so, all of us .38 Special fans have noticed that everyone’s favorite bass player, Larry “L.J.” Junstrom has been absent from the band’s live performances, as well. They’ve already replaced him with a guy named Barry Dunaway. He does a good job, but we all still miss L.J., mostly because we have no clue what happened to him. Is he ill? Was he fired? Will he be back? It seemed like they had a replacement awful quick, so it must be temporary, or it was something medical that they saw coming. Don’t take my word for it, because I know just about as much as you. Hopefully the band will release more information very soon. All band photos and biography’s still show Larry as a member of the band. Hopefully the .38 Special mystery will be solved very soon. The best we can hope for is for Donnie to make a full recovery soon, Gary to maintain good health, and L.J. to get back onstage (whatever the reason for his absence is…don’t know), and all of them to be back together again, making records and playing concerts! That band is too good to lose!
Keep an eye on the .38 Special webpage for more: http://www.38special.com
Also, look for Unknown Hinson and his original band, coming to a town near you: http://www.unknownhinson.com